Forensic Mental Health Counseling
A two-year, full-time, 60 credit-hour program, the Master of Arts in Forensic Mental Health Counseling is designed for students who wish to provide mental health services in forensic or legal settings. Rooted in clinical practice, this program provides students with more than 200 hours of practicum work and 600 hours of internship experience. The Program also provides the appropriate foundation for future doctoral study in a Psy.D. program.
Fall admission only; semester & summer schedule
Two years, full-time
$1,091 per credit
Ways to Save
Scholarships and grants available
February 1st for priority admission and scholarship consideration
February 15th for regular consideration
Internship, Leadership Roles Prepare Graduate Student for Clinical Therapist Position
Kelice Agosto, a 2023 graduate of the M.A. Forensic Mental Health Counseling program, has secured a position as a clinical therapist at Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater, Mass. Agosto was the Graduate Student Commencement Speaker at the University Commencement held May 19, 2023.Learn more about Kelice
The M.A. Forensic Mental Health Counseling program at RWU is one of less than 10 such programs in the United States. Students complete necessary coursework to satisfy state licensure requirements to become independent mental health clinicians, while learning how to effectively serve and support specialized populations connected to the judicial system including incarcerated individuals, court-ordered mentally ill patients, victims, police, and more.
Learn more about some of the work FMHC students are doing in the official podcast of RWU Graduate Programs, RWUGradCast:
Hear about the program on YouTube:
The Master of Arts in Forensic Mental Health Counseling seeks to:
- Prepare graduate students for careers as master's level mental health counselors in forensic settings
- Prepare graduate students for further academic training at the doctoral level (Psy.D.) in applied, clinical, experimental, or legal psychology
- Provide students with training in the areas of clinical assessment and intervention
- Provide students with internship/practicum experiences that will promote and develop professional skills in clinical forensic psychology
The Forensic Mental Health Counseling program is designed to provide the necessary coursework and professional hours to fulfill state licensure requirements for students to become independent mental health clinicians (commonly with an LMHC, LCMHC, LPC, or similar designation). The Program allows for approved course substitutions and additional practicum hours as necessary to allow students to fulfill specific state licensure requirements.
Graduates in Forensic Mental Health Counseling are able to:
- Expertly administer and interpret the WAIS-IV and WISC-IV and their protocols as well as the MMPI-2 and other personality inventories
- Conduct and write up initial clinical interviews, Mental Status Examinations and compile complete client social history
- Provide and initial case conceptualization with case write-up and proposed treatment plan
- Operate effectively in a group design form of treatment
- Provide psycho-educational services in areas of expertise
Graduates of the program typically seek employment as mental health counselors or pursue study at the doctoral level, most commonly in Psy.D. programs.
Employers of our Graduates
|Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital (IL)
|MA Department of Children and Families
|Arbour-Fuller Hospital (MA)
|Massachusetts Treatment Center
|Central New York Psychiatric Center
|Metropolitan Police Department of DC
|Danville Police Department (CT)
|Michigan Attorney General's Office - Criminal Division
|Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health (PA)
|Newport County Community Mental Health Center (RI)
|Joseph J. Peters Institute (PA)
|Rhode Island Department of Corrections
|Justice Resource Institute (MA)
|Riverbend Community Mental Health, Inc. (NH)
|South Bay Mental Health Center (MA)
|Alliant International University (Psy.D.)
|Regent University (Psy.D.)
|Antioch University (Psy.D.)
|Spaulding University (Psy.D.)
|LaSalle University (Psy.D.)
|University of Denver (Psy.D.)
|Nova Southeastern University (Psy.D.)
|University of Indianapolis (Psy.D.)
|Pacific University (Psy.D.)
|William James College (Psy.D.)
Open Houses are scheduled on the Bristol Campus every June and November with virtual Open Houses available in January and August. Join us to learn more about your program, the admission process, and financial aid at these informative events with faculty and Graduate Admission staff.
View our upcoming events for the most current opportunities to hear about the Forensic Mental Health Counseling program.
Virtual Information Sessions
Short on time or just want to learn more about us from the comfort of your home, school, or office? Join us for a Virtual Information Session.
Please visit http://grad.rwu.edu/events for the most current information on Open Houses and Virtual Sessions.
In the fall of 2020, we provided a series of expert lectures spanning a number of topics in forensic and legal psychology:
- Topics in Legal Psychology: How Jurors Think About the Death Penalty: A Cognitive and Affective Paradigm and Investigative Eyewitness Procedures: Safeguards for Law Enforcement to Reduce Erroneous Convictions Due to Mistaken Identification
- A Qualitative Analysis of Adults Who Committed Murder as an Adolescent: Implications for Post-Miller Hearings
- Hegemonic Masculinity: Impact on Sexual Aggression and Intervention Strategies
The Practicum and Internship Experience
Clinical licensure requirements in most states require two semesters of practicum and two semesters of internship. Students will work with the graduate practicum placement coordinator to secure a clinical practicum by the spring of their first year. Students will complete Clinical Practicum I (Psych 591) during the spring semester of their first year along with a 60 hour (about 4 hours/week) clinical practicum. Clinical Practicum II (Psych 592) will be completed during the summer between their first and second years and will require a total of 120 hours (about 8 hours/week). Students will then complete Clinical Internship (Psych 598) during the fall and spring semesters of their second year along with a 300 hour (about 20 hours/week) clinical placement. Students receive clinical supervision on-site from a supervisor employed at the training placement who has entered into a training agreement with RWU. Additionally, students have weekly small group supervision with a licensed member of the psychology faculty at RWU.
Below are some of the practicum sites our students have used for training:
- Arbour Counseling Services
- BH-Link Crisis Response Center
- Bridgewater State Hospital
- CODAC Behavioral Healthcare
- Communities for People
- Gateway Emergency Services
- Gateway Healthcare
- High Point Treatment Center
- Juvenile Court Clinics in Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island
- Massachusetts Correctional Institute through Wellpath
- Massachusetts Department of Youth Services
- Massachusetts Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons
- Newport Community Mental Health
- North American Family Institute (NAFI-RI)
- Ocean Tides School
- Positive Action Against Chemical Addiction, Inc.
- Providence Behavioral Health Associates
- Providence Municipal Court
- Providence Police Department
- Rhode Island Department of Corrections
- Rhode Island Family Court
- Rhode Island State Psychiatric Hospital- Competency Restoration Unit
- Rhode Island Training School at Cranston
- The Providence Center
- Thrive Behavioral Health
- Tides Family Services
- West Warwick Police Department
The M.A. Forensic Mental Health Counseling program is designed to prepare students to obtain licensure in the United States to provide clinical counseling services in forensic settings or with forensic-related populations. Licensure requirements vary by U.S. state. The University and the Psychology Department make every effort to provide clarity on the Forensic Mental Health Counseling curriculum and the degree to which it meets each state's current licensure requirements. Students should consult the licensure requirements in their state of intended employment for the most current and accurate information as licensure requirements change frequently.
Completion of the M.A. Forensic Mental Health Counseling program does not guarantee employment or eligibility for a license or credential. While the University curricular requirements for the Forensic Mental Health Counseling program and corresponding state requirements are detailed below to our best knowledge, some states may have new or additional requirements including, but not limited to, criminal background checks, additional coursework, and further clinical experience, that may impact your ability to gain employment or licensure.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of licensure can I pursue following completion of the M.A. Forensic Mental Health Counseling program?
The most common credentials include the LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor), LCPC (Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor), LPCC (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor), or LCMHC (Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor) designation. Each state is different, and you should consult the licensure requirements in your state of intended employment to determine the license or credential available.
These licenses are designed for those who wish to become independent mental health clinicians. In some cases, M.A. Forensic Mental Health Counseling students may choose to go on to further study in (most commonly) a PsyD program and earn a doctoral level license as a psychologist.
Why do I need a license?
If you wish to provide independent counseling or therapy, you must have a clinical license. Licensing ensures that those providing clinical therapy services have undergone significant academic and professional training and met specific requirements to do so. A clinical license is very often a necessity for insurance billing purposes once you are employed as a clinician.
What do I need to do to obtain a license as a master's level clinician?
An independent clinical license can be pursued after completing a license-eligible master's degree program. For most states, a license-eligible master's degree includes 60 credits of graduate-level coursework including significant field hours. Generally, the field hours are the largest difference between a traditional master's degree program and a license-eligible master's degree program.
In most cases, students must complete the following to be eligible for licensure:
1. License-eligible master's degree program (commonly 60 credits) including significant practicum and internship hours supervised by faculty.
2. Post-graduate supervised work experience working under the supervision of a licensed psychologist or mental health counselor, or someone otherwise deemed by statute to serve as a supervisor. Most states typically require the equivalent of two or three years of full-time supervised experience.
3. Successful completion of required board exam for your intended state of employment. While the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination of the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) is often used, each state may have different requirements.
Is obtaining a CACREP-accredited master's degree necessary to obtain licensure?
No. As of 2021, no U.S. states require a CACREP-accredited master's degree for licensure. In 22 states, students with a CACREP-accredited degree may be able to bypass the course verification process when applying for licensure. Otherwise, in all states students can provide course syllabi from master's level coursework for state licensing boards to verify that course content meets the requirements for state licensure. Roger Williams University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). Regional accreditation is regarded as the highest standard of institutional accreditation for colleges and universities in the United States. CACREP provides an optional accreditation for counseling programs; only some of the Forensic Mental Health Counseling programs in the United States have chosen to pursue the accreditation.
Can I only practice with forensic-related populations after completing the program?
No. Our students are prepared for the same licensure options as a general clinical/counseling student. The primary difference with the M.A. in Forensic Mental Health Counseling at RWU is that it has a series of courses specifically relating to working with forensic populations and your field placement will be working with forensic-related populations. The core mental health counseling coursework meets the same licensure requirements as general clinical programs.
Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in Psychology, Criminal Justice, or related field, and must have satisfactorily completed undergraduate courses in Statistics and Research Methods. To apply, students must submit the following items to the Office of Graduate Admission:
- Completed application form accompanied by the $50 application fee
- Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework
- Letter of Intent (two double-spaced pages maximum) describing your interest in Forensic Mental Health Counseling, career goals and how you can positively contribute to the graduate program at Roger Williams University
- Three (3) letters of recommendation attesting to your potential to succeed in graduate school. All three letters should come from academic sources (professors) who can speak to your performance in the classroom. One letter may come from an internship supervisor or employer, if appropriate. You should select recommenders who know you well, can speak about your character and work ethic, and can attest to your ability to handle graduate level coursework. Recommendation letters should not be submitted from personal friends or family members.
- If your first language is not English, an official report of TOEFL or IELTS results
Application Deadlines (Fall admission only):
February 1, 2024 - Priority Scholarship Consideration Deadline
February 15, 2024 - General Application Deadline
International applicants should also read through this page for additional requirements.
Where appropriate, documents should be submitted online through the applicant portal or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any official documents that must be mailed (i.e. transcripts) should be sent directly to:
Office of Graduate Admission
1 Old Ferry Rd.
Bristol, RI 02809
Have questions about the application process? Read the application instructions from the Office of Graduate Admission.
A Buckeye Becomes a Hawk: Going Small for Grad SchoolLyndsey Sheldon, RWU Class of 2023
Lyndsey Sheldon grew up in a small town in Ohio where everybody knew everybody. After undergraduate life as a Buckeye, she knew it was time to find a tight-knit experience for grad school. “When I knew it was time to get my masters and really buckle down, I knew a small community with interactive professors is what I needed,” she said.Read full story